Tag Archives: Transplant

Transplant’s Laurence Leboeuf: “Something is about to happen that I don’t think people are going to see coming”

Medical shows are a dime a dozen. As such, it takes a special kind of show in that genre to make me perk up, take notice and—most importantly—tune in every week.

Transplant is that special kind of show. Created by Joseph Kay, Transplant is a medical drama with a twist—a Syrian refugee and his sister come to Canada where he works in a Toronto hospital—filled with characters that are flawed, complex and, thankfully, memorable. There is a reason the show is No. 1 in this country and was recently picked up to air on NBC. Yes, it’s that damn good.

Actress Laurence Leboeuf is an integral part of Transplant‘s success. Leboeuf, who I saw last on Bell Media’s equally excellent cop drama 19-2, plays Mags Leblanc, a workaholic resident who—as the season has progressed—has become quite close with newbie Bash (Hamza Haq).

We spoke to Laurence Leboeuf ahead of Wednesday’s season finale, which promises to be a nailbiter if CTV’s synopsis is to be trusted: Bash and Mags race to save a woman with mysterious symptoms who was nearly killed by their team’s medical error, Dr. Bishop and Claire face a devastating realization, Theo tries to help a gravely ill teen and his family deal with the possibility that medical hope has run out, and June finds a mystery patient unconscious in the waiting room and goes to battle to save him.

Give me your origin story. How did you get involved? Did you have to audition for the character of Mags or because of your relationship with Sphere Media Plus; did they already have you in their stable of talent?
Laurence Leboeuf: Yeah, exactly. It was through that beautiful gang of people that I knew from 19-2 and then they, I guess read this role and they were like, ‘We think Laurence would be great for that.’ And I met with Joseph Kay, whom I didn’t know before, so I met him through FaceTime and talked about the character and the journey for Mags. That was it. I was part of the show. It was an amazing way to be cast.

She’s a fascinating character, she’s loyal and hard-working and she’s smart but she’s also seeking approval. She lives at work and she’s very complicated. She must be a fantastic and exciting character to play because there are so many levels to her. She isn’t a one-note character.
LL: Yeah, definitely. That’s such a great gift as an actor to have a great character like that to play and to play around with. And her complexity and her devotion to her work is just, that’s how she works. She’s giving it her all and she lives for that. And at the same time, she’s realizing that it might get the best of her. She doesn’t find that balance. And that’s really interesting to play and to play something that’s so far away from my life and my reality, like a doctor. It’s just amazing to dive into that world with her and her passion and devotion are just really nice to play with.

Are you the type of actor that likes to know the arc for a character, or are you happy with just reading the scripts as they come in?
LL: I don’t actually. It’s true that I like some backstory but it is nice to discover the character as we go along. And sometimes we even find different directions as we go along and we’re like, ‘Oh, this would be extremely interesting for this character…’ We’re not stuck in anything and I like that. I mean, there’s a base for everything but I like that openness and the fact that we can just play around with the character.

It’s alluded to that maybe there might be something between Mags and Bash that might not be just professional. Is that a logical progression for those characters?
LL: I think so, in a way. Since the arrival of Bash things have changed for Mags. The way that he works is so different from hers, that she was completely thrown off guard by his arrival. And I think she was really intrigued and admired his talent and could see that he had that raw medical talent and that same passion as hers to save their patients at all costs. They share that. She’s always been attracted and intrigued by this man that just got into the hospital. Yeah, I think there’s definitely some attraction there.

He’s so mysterious, too.
LL: Yeah, exactly. And I think, she likes that, too. I think it’s going to force her, maybe, to open up more or to go and reach out more because she’s also shut down all of that part of her life. The hospital is her boyfriend.

Let’s discuss the medical jargon. Was there a boot camp that you had to go to, to learn about processes? 
LL: Yeah, we did. On the weekends, we would get together with our onset doctor, Dr. Zachary Levine, and our nurse, Mike Richardson. We had these boot camps with them to coordinate the big scenes that we had to do. Like the double traumas that we had to do and how we were going to handle that. And that was amazing to have them around and to be able to help us with looking natural when we do our manipulation at the same time as we talk that crazy jargon and have to be believable. We had to pretend that we were so confident in what we were doing that it looked like we know what we’re doing. The boot camps were amazing for that.

That tracheotomy that you did in the elevator looked pretty convincing to me.
LL: Oh, my god.

I think you could do it.
LL: Yeah, right. Oh, my god. I’m wouldn’t want to try. I had a hard time doing it on a fake neck because I was so stressed out. Oh, yeah. But Mags did good, though.

Can you tease Transplant’s season finale? Is it going to be a cliffhanger? Is it going to be shocking?
LL: I think so. I think there’s going to be a bit of a mix of all that. Definitely, we’re going to be left with a cliffhanger and something is about to happen that I don’t think people are going to see coming. We’re going to have those surprises coming our way.

Transplant‘s season finale airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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Link: Transplant writer Rachel Langer on the sacrifices required to deliver a script

From Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies:

Link: Transplant writer Rachel Langer on the sacrifices required to deliver a script
“I started on Transplant three months after undergoing a total hysterectomy removing my uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. I was definitely still recovering, and Derek and I talked a lot about what that was going to look like during the job, but ultimately I LOVE working.” Continue reading.

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Executive producer Virginia Rankin breaks down Transplant’s origin story

Virginia Rankin has executive-produced some of the most compelling series in Canadian television. From 19-2 to Bad Blood and This Life she, and the folks at Sphère Média Plus, have brought unique characters and compelling stories to primetime TV.

The latest is Transplant. Airing Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, Rankin’s newest project debuted to strong ratings in Canada. Starring Hamza Haq as Dr. Bashir “Bash” Hamed—a Syrian doctor with battle-tested skills in emergency medicine—it appears she’s got another success on her hands.

We spoke to Virginia Rankin about how Transplant was created, and how the TV market has changed for a company like Sphère Média Plus.

Take me back to the beginning. How did Transplant come about?
Virginia Rankin: I work very closely with Tara Woodbury, who’s our head of development, and Tara really wanted to do something around immigration and refugees. Her family, her extended family, sponsors a Sudanese refugee, so she has firsthand experience with it and so she wanted to do something around that. And my experience, in 20 years of television, is that it’s incredibly hard to tell those stories because mainstream networks are like, ‘Ah, it sounds like an issue. We don’t do issues.’ So, I sort of a little hesitant, but she was really passionate about it. And at first, we were bouncing around ideas like rom-coms and comedies and this kind of thing.

At the same time, we knew that [CTV] was looking for a medical show to replace Saving Hope. And we also knew that we wanted to work with Joseph Kay. I had had a great experience working with him on This Life. We sort of cornered him. We all kind of sat around and threw ideas around and then one night, in the middle of the night, they kind of all came together and the title Transplant came to me and that was some debate about whether it should be The Transplant, by the way, or Transplant. But for me, it was just Transplant and I saw the poster and on the poster was Hamza Haq.

We knew from working with him what a great guy he was and that he’s the full hero package. He’s charismatic, he’s handsome as anything, he’s got the acting chops and he’s a wonderful human being. My job was done and then it was over to Joe and Joe just took those simple elements and he went away and he did a lot of deep diving, a lot of research and he came back and he pitched us this beautiful story of Bash and his sister Amira as Syrian refugees and their new lives in Canada.

It was really all created by Joseph.

Just to clarify, Hamza was not attached. We didn’t say it has to be this guy and we hadn’t attached him in any way. We actually went through a full audition process before we attached him, but he did come on as a consultant. So he read the draft and gave Joe his thoughts.

He actually had to audition and we did audition a number of Syrian actors. We looked quite extensively at Arab actors. And when it came down to it, he was still the guy who we really thought could bring an audience to the show.

What is it about Joseph Kay that ticks the boxes when it comes to a showrunner?
VR: It’s how seriously he takes his job. It’s the research that he does. He has to really know his characters in a deep way. And he does that. He does that work. He’s a wonderful collaborator. I’ve worked on two shows with him now and I just love the creative conversation with him and how he listens and he thinks and he takes everything on board. And then he comes out with beautiful work. So, I can’t say enough good things about working with him.

As you said, Hamza is fantastic. You can’t help but cheer for this guy.
VR: He’s a leading man. He’s Omar Sharif and you don’t see that that often either. And frankly, I think we’re incredibly lucky that we kind of discovered him when we did. I mean, he already had it long CV, but certainly, this is his first major, major leading role. And I feel like a year or two from now we wouldn’t have been able to get him. So, I feel like he’s going to break out. But luckily for us, he loves the show. He’s really, really, really passionate about it and he works so hard and put so much of his heart and soul into it.

When you see NBCUniversal International Studios attached to this, I can’t help but think about the way that the market has changed and how it’s become truly international. As a producer, has there been a seismic shift in the way that you go about making television shows here in this country and how you shop them around?
VR: It’s interesting. It is quite different working with NBC than it has been working with the other international distributors we’ve worked with in the past. NBC sees itself as a studio. We don’t have a studio system in Canada. In Canada, we, the production company, sees ourselves as a studio because we own the copyright and the cashflow and we do all that stuff. But NBC does see themselves more like a studio. Their participation is on a level that they’ve earned that. And so they are much more actively involved than the experience I’ve had with other international distributors, which is great because you do want your show to sell around the world and they obviously know how to do that. So, we really appreciate their perspective and we really hope that the show does succeed in significant markets around the world.

What can you say about Bash’s journey through the first season of the show?
VR: The journey of Bash is, to a certain extent, to allow himself to release some of his secrets because some of his secrets are kind of killing him. He’s carrying guilt and trauma as any refugee will have, any survivor will have. And he’s sharing those things and he perhaps needs to share them more for his own sake, for his own survival. So that is his character journey, which is to learn to let some of those secrets go.

The first episode ends with Bash sitting down with Jed Bishop and Jed saying, ‘Let’s have that job interview over again.’ Is this going to be a mentor-mentee type of relationship, a father-son relationship between these two?
VR: Yes, yes, absolutely. There’s the father-son dynamic there and like any father-son or parental relationship, it’s not always nice. It’s not always pretty. So on both sides, there’s rebellion from the son figure and there are disappointments from the father figure, it’s all of those variations of the father-son relationship.

Transplant airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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